This forum is for posting bird photos and for general discussions in the field of bird photography. Although the site is focused on BC Birding, topics here and photo postings can include birds from around the globe. As well, you are encouraged to include a link to your personal bird photo galleries.
By MDB8
#89164
Canon today officially announced the 90D APS-C DSLR body. It has been rumoured for a long time so no real surprises. 32.5 Megapixel sensor. It has been claimed that it will supplant the 80D and the 7D Mark II, a body used by many Birders. However, it appears that the 7D II will continue to be sold by Canon. I use the 7D II, but also the Sony RX10-IV, a mirrorless camera with a 24mm - 600mm F2.4/4.0 Zeiss lens. The Sony is lighter and quieter (noiseless shutter), but only tops out at 600mm. With a 600mm lens on the 7D II, the reach is equivalent to 960mm. Both have 20 MP sensors.

If you are using Canon, but a lesser model than the 7D II, then the forthcoming 90D is a no-brainer wrt purchasing it. Its price will be less than that of the 7D II, but a little more than the 80D.

I expect that the 90D will boast 50% more pixels than does the 7D II, 33% more than the 80D. It will fire at 10fps using the viewfinder, the same as the 7D II, but faster than the 80D. It is claimed to have superior ability to follow-focus a moving target (like birds). It will likely have the same spot focusing ability as the 7D II, a feature named "Spot AF". This is very important when trying to photograph birds. For example when photographing a hiding Long-eared Owl last Fall, this feature enabled me to focus on the bird and ignore branches that partially obscured the body. I know that the 70D did not have this spot focusing ability (only a "big" spot).

I think Canon (and other camera makers) expend too much technology to fancy-up exposure. With ISO-invarient sensors and if you take RAW images, minor exposure errors are irrelevant. Such "errors" may not even be possible to validate when using a computer monitor that is not set up properly.

I'll probably purchase the 90D, but am not anxious to do so. Firstly, I shall download the full manual and carefully read the section regarding focusing methods in order to determine what "Spot AF" means. As this model uses cross-type focusing points, I expect it means I can attain the equivalent focusing ability as I have now with the 7D II. Spot focusing is also useful when trying to photograph a bird that is very far away.

Meanwhile Sony is zipping along. The recent model A7R IV is particularly appealing to me WRT bird photography. It has a full-frame sensor of 61 MP. This is equivalent to 24 MP WRT Canon's APS-C bodies. It also can take images at 10fps. It also has in-body 5-axis stabilization and likely better follow-focusing capability than any Canon body. It's also a mirrorless body and hence need not make any noise when taking images. It is expensive, though - about 3X the cost of the new Canon 90D. Of course, it will also require mirrorless lenses. Sony currently offers a 200mm - 600mm zoom lens for its mirrorless bodies. This lens costs about the same as the Sigma Sport 150mm - 600mm zoom.

As the Sony is mirrorless, the viewfinder is electronic. For this high-end model, the EVF has 5.7 Megapixels of resolution, about 2.5X the resolution of an HD TV set. Also EVFs have the capability of digitally zooming in on a target to aid in the focusing. My experience with the Sony RX10 IV is that the EVF needs improved contrast and a faster frame rate. E.g., Hummingbirds have wings that [...] while in flight. The information on the Sony AVR7 IV does not elaborate on these issues.

I expect that both the Canon 90D and the Sony AR7 IV will allow me to take improved bird photos over my current Canon 7D II model. The Sony will also allow for general usage - family et al. I also fiddle with macro photography and a 61 MP sensor should dramatically increase the quality of such images. For me, the Sony is a much larger investment, though.
By MDB8
#89372
I'm still sitting on the fence WRT the usefulness of the Canon 90D for bird photography. I don't think that Canon understands how cameras are used for this type of photography. For example...

There are 3 types of magnification that may be applied to get those birds closer. The simplest one lies with the lens itself. If you can afford a 600mm F4.0 lens, then you can achieve 12X magnification over the view as taken with a normal 50mm lens. The second type lies with the camera sensor. For Canon's APS-C sensors the "crop factor" is 1.6. this means that WRT a full-size sensor, the subjects are magnified by 160%. So that 600mm F4.0 is equivalent to 960mm at F4.0. This extra magnification is very useful for photographing small objects at great distance. In fact I found this extra magnification so useful that I stopped using the Canon 5D series for bird photography and moved to the 7D series.

The third type of magnification also lies with the sensor, but with the pixel density rather than the sensor size. For example, suppose you are using a Canon 7D II (or Nikon equivalent) and you take some images of a distant Tern sitting on an unreachable sand bar. When you process the image you might crop it from the sensor's 20 megapixels to 2 megapixels, effectively discarding 90 percent of the original photo. However, if you were using a Canon 90D with its 32 megapixel sensor, you could crop to about 6% of the image to obtain 2 MP with which to work. This is roughly equivalent to still another 1.6 magnification. It is this increased "magnification" which could make the 90D attractiive to Birders. (Of course the camera needs to have excellent spot focusing.)

This is where Canon has failed this market segment. Reviewers has observed dramatic increases in noise (especially in JPEGs) resulting from the smaller pixels in the 90D. Consequently the usefulness of this third type of magnification is diminished, making the camera less attractive.

I still may purchase one, but now expect it to be a backup body, not a replacement for the 7D II.

But I'm going to wait for Sony's upcoming RX10 V, the fifth generation of this series. If the new Sony has increased range over the current IV model (600mm F4.0), then it may be a superior replacement for the Canon 7D II. (It's big advantage is in weight reduction.) And I'm still considering abandoning Canon altogether and moving to a Sony AR7 IV which is a full-frame 61-megapixel sensor that has a cropping feature. Very expensive, though, but it's mirrorless. Plus the added cost of converting a couple of lenses to Sony's E-mount. If I didn't have a large investment in Canon "L" lenses and were starting over, I would choose Sony over Canon.

Another area of poor marketing by Canon (and other camera manufacturers) is that they are not adjusting to the increased usefulness of smartphone cameras. Such phones have had a dramatic impact on sales of smaller, cheaper cameras. One market segment that is mostly unaffected by smartphone photo technology is that of bird photography. You cannot replace a 600mm F4.0 lens with a smartphone (although some are adding telephoto features). Canon and others should make a special effort to make this segment happy and thus ensure its loyalty as smartphones add power.

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